reflections from the southeast PA rural underground
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
If you've ever seen an artichoke plant or any of its family growing you know that wild character it has with those strong, thick, spiked leaves jutting out in all directions surrounding like an army to protect its sacred heart. The cardoon is a relative of the artichoke. Today its precarious demeanor was even more off setting as it/they stood out in the 38 degree rainy late October day. After lifting drenched, icy agri-bon row covers off of multi-colored lettuce heads and cutting the first of the season's brussel sprouts, we used our red, frozen hands to try an attempt to extract the first cardoons. Their leaves, also armored with spiked edges, and much larger than their artichoke cousins made me wince every time my raw hands got too close to them. My wrist let me know as well that I wouldn't have her full support to squeeze those old hedge trimmer handles together and cut down the cardoon trunks. The wrist was recovering from a skateboarding fall 4 1/2 months prior to this day. The corner of my write one panged as I pushed the handles together just about as hard as i could to cut the cardoon trunk from the ground. Later I realized that I had been cutting too low and that I could have saved myself much effort in this endeavor but alas, that is the newness of farming. At some point I found my extremities too have become slightly accustomed to the cold and wet. We had eaten and braced for round two in the rain. She said, while digging soil to cover over radicchio that should have been covered two weeks before, " I don't think I can feel my hands anymore." I gripped the metal shovel and agreed, lumping some mix of mud and green foliage onto the edge of the cover. "Damn its cold," I thought. "Really fucking cold."It has been said that April is the cruelest month and I tend to agree, but when November weather hits in late October it makes one re think that notion.